Play with an Edge
The notable additions to the Leafs – Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Ryan Reaves – will want to illustrate to Keefe and team management why they were brought in.
The Leafs may want to play with more of an edge, but with Holl and Schenn not being replaced by anyone physical on the blue-line, that might be a problem.
Additionally, for whatever levels of grit Reaves, Domi and Bertuzzi can bring, they are going to have to replace Bunting, O’Reilly, Acciari and Aston-Reese, so only time will tell if the Leafs are harder or easier to play against this year.
Specifically, watch for Reaves to go out of his way to make a statement.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have supposedly been pushed around for years and their toughness has been questioned. This is more of a narrative than anything resembling the truth, however: you simply do not win 65% of the points available to you, while giving your coach the all-time highest winning percentage in history, over four years, if you’re being pushed around.
Reaves will find a way to instigate a handful of fights.
He is going to want to send a message to the rest of the league and to justify the contract Treliving gave him, which is likely impossible anyways.
This all relates to the Leafs identity. Keefe has talked about building a team persona. Domi will take a lot of pride in wearing his father’s jersey and will bring passion every night.
As Keefe figures out which line combinations work best together, there is no doubt that the Leafs will go about their business with a bit of a punch.